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Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs unveiled what he called "the fastest desktop computer in the world" and promised to make the Mac OS X operating system easier to work with at Monday's opening of Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco.
Jobs said Apple would henceforth compete with top-of-the-line Intel/Windows machines on both performance and price. He showed three new G5 Power Mac models based on IBM's 64-bit PowerPC chip and priced at $1,999, $2,399, and $2,999. The chips powering them will run at 1.6 GHz, 1.8 GHz, and 2 GHz, respectively.
To buy the near equivalent to the high-end, dual-processor G5, a purchaser would have to spend $4,000 on a dual-processor Intel/Windows model at the Dell Computer Web site, Jobs told the Apple developers assembled in the new wing of the San Francisco Convention Center, Moscone West.
"The G5 has been designed for dual processors," Jobs noted, and its 1-Gbyte front-side bus for moving data between components of the machine is "the fastest ever." It can transfer all the data on a DVD disk from processor to memory in less than a second, he said.
The G5 can use twice as much memory as the maximum 4 Gbytes used by a 32-bit PC, allowing large-scale 3-D modeling and other research and scientific purposes, Jobs said.
Jobs also unveiled a new version of iChat "that goes beyond instant messaging" and allows voice and video to be exchanged as well as text. PC users only need a 56-Kbps modem with an Apple iSight or other video camera mounted at the top of their screens to use iChat. Home and business users with access to broadband networks can transmit full-motion video as they talk, said Jobs, illustrating the capability with a call to an Apple associate in Paris, Jean Marie Hullot, who showed himself outside his home near the Eiffel Tower. IChat will go on sale at the end of year for $29 for Mac OS users and will be included free in 10.3, the fourth version of the Mac OS X, when it's released at the end of the year.
Focusing on content- and multimedia-app developers, Jobs said the 10.3 version of the OS X system will have a new tool called Xcode, which speeds the debugging of apps. Xcode allows an application to continue running as the developer edits the code, saves it, recompiles it, and instantly gets to the see the effect of the change in the running application, he said.
The new version of Mac OS X is "so bulletproof that an application crashing doesn't crash the system," he added.
Apple developers also are getting a free software development kit for building Apple's Safari browser into applications. Safari is the default Web browser on the Mac, and Jobs said it will become a fixture on the Mac, with 5 million downloads since its release last January.
Other features of the updated operating system will be:
The fourth version of Mac OS X is due to go on sale at the end of the year for $129.